Reposted from the Lucrii Productions blog.
The self-titled EP by Love American kills me.
Several of the guys in Love American have been playing music and eatin dirt around northern Los Angeles county for years now; guitarist Hans and drummer Ryan spent time in the pop-punk outfit Championship Vinyl, vocalist Javier grew up in the bands Mavrick and Young Machinist. New bassist John was in the San Fernando Valley punk band Telepathic Catholic in addition to playing solo acoustic music, and though Love American is other guitarist Adam’s first band, what he may lack in experience he makes up in technique. I’ve seen this band twice live and all the elements are there, the band works well together and I only expect every show to get better.
Now, onto the record.
This EP could have been the best underground screamo/post hardcore record of the decade. The band combines the creativity of Hot Cross, technicality of early Thrice, intensity of Orchid and Pg.99, and thoughtful and discernible lyrics likened to City of Caterpillar. Javier’s vocals are perfect through these 6 tracks, providing the perfect mixture of grit, growl, and desperate shout behind lyrics that reach out and demand that you identify with the words and sweat pouring out of this young man. One of my favorite things about Javier’s vocals is that I can actually understand the lyrics – not that I’m “old” and require that lyrics be understandable, but hearing something like “Leave your dignity at the door and your heart at the bedside,” you can’t help but think of something/someone you don’t really want to; and good, sometimes art (and music included) should do that.
John joined the band after the EP was recorded, so I wont really touch on it aside from the fact that the bass parts were record by Adam and he did a dandy job. Hans’ and Adam’s guitar work is fantastic, it’s great to see (hear) the immense creativity that clearly flows from these guitarists interweaving technicality with melody, letting you know you know they not only mean business, but they mean smart business. A little tasteful effects, a lot of hammer-ons , and some great harmonies make listening to this record a blast.
Now, here’s the issues I have with the record:
1) Honestly, it seems a bit rushed. I don’t know what the production schedule was like, but in the dozens of times I’ve listened to the record, whether just driving around in my car or at my desk with a pen and paper, I hear parts where I think “Man, that’s kinda sloppy, it probably could’ve been fixed with a few different takes.” That really doesn’t reflect poorly on Love American as a band or the potential they have, just makes me wish they had maybe taken a little more time to clean things up a bit.
2) The last song on the record, “Then/Than” was co-written by the band’s longtime friend, Jed Bookout, and is by far the most melodic and listener friendly track. I was super excited to learn Natalie Diaz from the band Modern American Theater had contributed guest vocals on “Then/Than” – I’ve seen Modern American Theater several times and I really enjoy their new record, “We Could Make A House.” When I finally got to this song on the EP, the juxtaposition between Love American and Natalie Diaz’s voice was harsh and jarring, with Natalie’s vocals pushed so far forward in the mix it sounds almost like it was slapped over the finished track as an afterthought. I was also surprised to find Diaz’s voice on the song to be lifeless and lacking the intensity you find on her band’s current release.
All in all, this is a fantastic release from a new band with tons of potential. I’m not sure the band’s long term intentions, if they just want to have fun and give their music away, or if at some point they want to try and make some money off it… but, for a free demo it’s really a step above others are doing. In my humble opinion though, if the band had put a little more time and money behind it, this record could’ve become a classic in the standing of “The Shape of Punk to Come.”